Sunday, November 21, 2010

Thanks a lot, Google Translate

A World Cup Ski Jumping competition is coming to Lillehammer on December 3-5, and they are looking for volunteers to help with the event. Erik suggested it might be a good opportunity to meet some locals, speak a little Norwegian, and have fun. So, I emailed the contact people, making it very clear that I speak only a little Norwegian, but would be happy to help out.

I received a few emails thanking me for my interest, including one who stated he had "responsibilities to the press, and maybe you would be helpful" (or so confirmed Google Translate, when I copied and pasted his email into the web translating service). The next email was a little more complex, and from a different organizer, so I pasted the entire email into Google Translate. Here is the response:
Send over the dates for voluntary work in connection with toilet 2 to 5.11 in 2010.We have 2 girls / damersom participate in our group, and there had been very very positive with a girl.Give me feedback when it's convenient for you to be with.Welcome, you should be!

My reaction upon reading the translation?

TOILETS? I don't want to work in the TOILETS!

How. . . wha. . . ???  I didn't get ANY hint of toilets when I attempted my own translation. How was this possible? How did I get signed up for TOILETS???

Ohhhhh. . . .
As I glanced back to the original email, I realized the volunteer organizer had abbreviated "World Cup" to "WC". And Google had translated "WC" to. . . . toilets.

What a relief. 


  1. That is so funny! I use Google Translate on a number of different blogs on my list. One in particular signs off as each entry as "warm hugs and lottery tickets". I suspect it is meant to be warm wishes and luck!?!
    Hope you get to volunteer; it sounds like fun!

  2. This is terrifically funny. It's good to hear that you have firm lines in place to mark just how far you will and won't go to work on your Norwegian! ;-) Good luck!

  3. HAHA! Awesome! Man it's amazing what kind of trouble online translators can get you into ;)

    Cool that you are volunteering btw!